Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's Your Favorite Back to School Activity

Jodi, from Fun in First Grade wants to know what our favorite back to school activity is and I'm linking up to share mine with all of you. Since I teach K-2, I've decided to share my favorite activity for each grade.

My kindergartners will make a class book called Who Am I? You can read all about it here. This is what the book looks like:

You can get a copy for yourself by clicking on the image above.

My first graders will do an activity called Words that Describe Me. They draw a big portrait of themselves and then brainstorm some words to describe themselves. Then, they'll add the words to their portrait. 

I made a back to school version and you can get it by clicking on the image below.

And, finally, my second graders will make a class book about our rules and procedures. You can read all about how I do this and see some pictures here. You can grab your own copy of the book by clicking on the image below.

I look forward to reading all about your favorite back to school activities so be sure to link up!

Fun in First

Be sure to check my blog tomorrow, as I will be participating in Jessica Sanford's Magical Product Swap!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New {School} Year Resolutions ...Link up

I'm linking up with Amanda, from Teaching Maddeness, and sharing some of my New {School} Year Resolutions. I'm starting my 18th year of teaching and I always kick off the new year with a list of things I hope to accomplish. Am I always successful? Well, I could lie, and say yes, but, the answer!

Resolution #1
This will be my first year being a teacher blogger, so my first resolution is to find the time to chronicle everything I do so I can share it with my dedicated followers.

Resolution #2
My school has adopted a new writing program. I am very excited about it. I want to learn everything I can about it so I can teach it effectively and really help to strengthen my students' writing skills.

Resolution #3
My students think that I am the greatest illustrator. Actually, they think I am great at just about everything. They are so good for my ego. The sad truth is, I am a horrible illustrator and I don't have the talent or desire to make those really cute anchor charts I'm seeing all over the blogosphere. I made one once, using my overhead. My students actually gave me a standing ovation! This year, I resolve to make more than one really awesome anchor chart. Even if it's just two, it's still more than one!
I think that's it for now. You'll notice I don't have any resolutions about being more organized or neat. Two things that most teachers wish they were. Truth be told, I am organized to a fault and a bit of a neat freak. Not to the point of being OCD, but, the cleaning crew at my school loves me! I make their job incredibly easy. I can teach a class on organization. I just can't make any cute charts to show during my class! Unless it's made on the computer. LOL! 

I look forward to reading all about your New {School} Year Resolutions. You can link up, too, by clicking on the image above.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Attention Clip Chart Users...

Now that I have your attention, I want to show you what I just made. I love my clip chart. You can read all about how I use it here.   Last year, I used this for my take home behavior report.

I really liked it because it lasted for the whole month. This year, I'm going to use these:

When I hand them out each month, the children will color in the grid on the right, so their parents know what each color means. Then, each day, they will lightly color in the boxes, the color in which they end the day. Their parents will sign it so I know they've looked at it and it will stay in my students' take home folders. 


Thursday, July 26, 2012


 I heart BrainPop!
Here is how I use it in my classroom...

BrainPOP has animated, curricular content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement. The content is mapped to Common Core, aligned to academic standards, and searchable with their online Standards Tool. BrainPOP is easy to use, with no downloading, installation, or special hardware required. BrainPOP has tons of videos that cover all subject areas. Each video has an easy and hard quiz that you can do online or print out, games, activities, a word wall, book suggestions, writing activities, and more. Here are some screen shots of the writing activity that goes with a back to school video.

Sometimes, I make this into a group activity, by asking my students to answer the question. Then, I type it up, print it out, and send it home. My students love to see their words being typed out on the screen.

Many times, when I give the quiz, I give my students white boards and they write down their answers and then hold up their boards. It's an easy, informal assessment for me. Here is a screen shot of a quiz.

I love BrainPOP and I know you will, too. I look at it as 5-6 minutes, where I don't have to say too much, and the children are 100% engaged. Check it out!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rockin' Resources Linky...Top 5 Teacher Must Haves

I'm linking up with Kelley, from Teacher Idea Factory and Rachelle, from Life is Sweet...In Kindergarten. They are both having linky parties, where everyone can showcase some of the resources we have that we simply cannot do without.

Here are my current Top 5 School Resources
 I Can't Live Without...

Sharpie Flip Chart Markers
They don't bleed through to the next page and they dry instantly. They write smoothly and the colors are bright and pretty.

Target Dollar Spot Bins, Caddies, Paper Trays
I teach three grade levels and I color coordinate. Everything I have is red, yellow, and green. My students know which bin or tray is for them and everything is always organized.

Student Mailboxes
This unit makes it quick and simple to send things home with my students. Everyone has a labeled slot and nothing ever gets misplaced. 

Digital Timer
I cannot live without this timer. Since it's digital, it is so quick and easy to use. I set it for everything! If I didn't, I'd always be late for something.

Mega Magnets
These magnets will hold anything up on my whiteboard. Pocket charts, chart paper, flip charts, big books. They are super strong and well worth the price. This year I bought their best friend, too...Mega  Clips! They are basically the same, but, instead of the hooks, they have clips. I can't wait to use those, too.

What products and resources can you not live without? 
Come and link up, too!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop

I am linking up with Grade Three is the Place for Me. She's having a blog hop for new blogs on the block. I've only had my own blog for 4 months, so, I think I can squeak by as a newbie. What do you think? Here are the questions and my answers:

  1. What state are you in? Florida
  2. What is your current teaching position? I teach kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. I am a writing specialist.
  3. What is your teaching experience? I will be starting my 18th year of teaching. Last year, I was the teacher of the year for my school and state.
  4. When did you start blogging? I started my own blog on March 11, 2012.
  5. Here are my blogging tips (My tips will be about blog set up): 
    1. Make sure you have a way for bloggers to follow you. Put the link at the top of your blog so bloggers don't need to hunt for it.
    2. Turn off word verification. No one can read those tiny numbers and letters and bloggers get frustrated when they need to type them in.
    3. Don't be a no-reply blogger. For more information about this, click here. Make sure your email address is on your blog.
    4. If you have a teaching store, pinterest, or facebook, keep those links at the top of your blog so bloggers can easily find them.
    5. Don't use a small, hard to read font on your blog. They are definitely cute, but some bloggers have a tough time reading it.
    6. Have a blog button so other bloggers can easily grab it in case they want to give you a shout-out or if you want to link up somewhere.
Now, I'm off to find some new blogs to love! Thanks, Janis, for starting this blog hop. All newbies can link up by grabbing the code, below all the blog buttons.

Rachelle, from Life is Sweet...In Kindergarten, is having a Back to School Bash. It is amazing! Click the link below to enter to win some fabulous prizes. There's one from me!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win an Easi-Speak USB Recorder from Learning Resources. You will love it!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tizmos and some blogger helpful hints

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to share a technology tip!
Towards the end of the the last school year, I discovered this really cool website called Tizmos. It's a kid (and teacher) friendly visual bookmarking site. It captures visual images of websites so members can access their bookmarks from any computer. As a teacher, all you need to do is add the websites your students frequent to the Tizmos homepage. Then, when your students want to go to a particular website, all they need to do is click on the image. It's that easy! Here is a screenshot of what my Tizmos homepage looks like. My students were always able to find the sites they needed without my assistance. 

You can even assign tags to the websites, like kindergarten, first grade, free time, to make it even easier for the children to find what they need. I have some free time games saved and my students just click on the free time tag and then click the game they want to play. This helps them remember that they cannot play these games during  the academic portion of our day. Here is a screen shot of tags:

I received an email from the Tizmos crew, letting me know that they are improving their screenshotting capability so all of our thumbnails are available. That is great because, as you can see in my images, there is one game that does not have a thumbnail. They also said that they are designing a premium version that will have some pretty fancy features. I am really looking forward to getting more information about this! 

I hope you like Tizmos as much as I do! 

I try very hard to respond to every comment I receive and I'm still finding lots of no-reply bloggers. If your email is not associated with your blogger, then you cannot receive emails from bloggers. For step-by-step directions on how how to fix this issue, you can click here. Don't forget to leave a comment on THAT post so I can check to see if you have fixed your settings properly. If you don't hear from me, then it probably wasn't fixed. Oh, one more thing! Kinder-Craze has a really good tutorial on how to disable the word verification box that pops up when people try to leave comments on many blogs. Most bloggers don't even realize that this is happening. There are so many times I want to leave a comment and then the pesky box opens up and I literally click right out of that person's blog. Please, please, please, click here to get rid of that box once and for all. Thanks so much from me and every other blogger who finds it almost impossible to read the letters and numbers in that annoying little pop up!

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Walmart and Target Goodies!

If you're anything like me, you've already begun doing some back to school shopping. Walmart has a new line of 88 cent products that are both affordable and adorable., has been sending out packages to teacher bloggers to showcase on their blogs so everyone can see just how cute this stuff is. I am thrilled to be one of those bloggers! Here are some pictures of what you can expect to see in your local Walmart. You can right click on each picture and open in a new window to see more details.

Here's some more stuff from the same company, that I had already purchased before my package arrived. 

I hope that you all enjoy these goodies as much as I do! 
Please check out these links from CraftProjectIdeas:
Facebook     Twitter     Youtube     Pinterest


I also went to Target and picked up some more bins, caddies, paper trays, etc. I already have tons from last year, but, I like to know I have these things, just in case.

I love the new dry erase boards that look like a piece of notebook paper. Those are definitely new to me!

I hope you all have fun shopping, too! I'm no where near done, so, maybe I'll see some of you in Target or Walmart or Michael's. I'll be the one with a wagon full of stuff that I probably already have and don't even need!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Back to School Class Book ~ Freebie

I have seen tons of really great back to school activities and, although I am no where near ready to go back, just like the rest of you, I am beginning to plan. I love to start the year off making class books because my students love to read their own work over and over again. I already blogged about my Classroom Rules and Procedures Class Book. You can find that little freebie by clicking on the image below.

Another class book that I do during the first week or two of school, is Who Am I? I got this idea from one of my favorite blogs, Chalk Talk. I talked with the author of Chalk Talk, April, and she gave me permission to give away my version of the book. You can find April's original idea if you click on the image below.

When I saw April's idea last year, I knew I had to make this book with my kindergarten class. It came out really cute and was read over and over again. When you put the children's work in page protectors, make sure to put their self portrait in the same page protector as their writing, back to back. That way, when they are reading it, first they read the writing, then they guess who it may be, then they turn the page to confirm. I always put my class books in 1/2 inch binders and stick the pretty cover in the clear view front pocket. If you would like to make this class book, just click on the image below.

I wish I had some pictures to share with you, but I made this book before I started blogging and it's packed away at school. You can see some cute pictures on April's blog, though. Thanks, April, for allowing me to share this book with everyone!

I just want to update everyone on some giveaways that I am participating in. Please stop by Heather's blog. She is celebrating 100+ followers by giving away tons of fabulous products.

Next, make sure to visit Lacie's blog. Although her giveaway started as a 100+ follower celebration, she is now way past 200 followers!

Next, stop by Buzz, Buzz, Buzz. She is having a Mega Anniversary giveaway that is not to be missed!

Laura, from Mrs. Castro's Class, is having an enormous giveaway. There will actually be six different winners! 

Please visit Marie, over at The Hands-On Teacher, to enter her amazing giveaway, too!

Finally, Janine is having a Blockbuster Giveaway! You won't believe the size and magnitude of this one!

Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard